GNOME (www.gnome.org) has undergone some major changes for the 1.4 release which should see it maintain pace with the other major Linux desktop, KDE.
The release last year of KDE 2.0 with a rewritten interface, additional applications and a new graphical file/Web browser called Konqueror was the talk of the Linux world. GNOME, with the release of version 1.4, now has a GUI framework and the supporting applications to move the Linux desktop further ahead in terms of power and functionality. A key component of this new release is the inclusion of the first release of Nautilus, a graphical file and Web browser developed by Eazel (www.eazel.com).
To install the standard GNOME 1.4 you will need to compile it from source. The tar.gz source code for each part of GNOME is on the Linux section of the cover CD. If you have a previous version of GNOME installed in an rpm format on your system, you will need to remove it first. It is advisable that you only attempt this installation if you are confident about installing applications from source. If you require an automated installation tool, Ximian (formerly Helix Code, see www.ximian.com) GNOME is recommended as it is the base software which is packaged for the major distributions.
Plenty of new features have come into the GNOME desktop with version 1.4. GNOME now has xalf for application launch feedback, which tells a user that "a program has been started, a feature already present in KDE. The configuration framework of GNOME has been improved with the new GConf 1.0, and the gnome-print utility has been added. There is improved theme support (see http://gtk.themes.org) as well the inclusion of Sawfish window manager (www.sawfish.org) on the desktop.
GNOME's fifth toe
With the wide variety of applications that have been developed for use with GNOME, the project has created a "fifth toe" which bundles many of them together. Applications such as the GIMP, GnuCash (financial manager) and AbiWord are examples of the 35 fifth toe programs.
One of the key improvements for GNOME 1.4 is the replacement of the GNOME edition of the GNU Midnight Commander (GMC) with Nautilus, a graphical user environment developed by Eazel.
Red Hat Linux users who do not want to install manually Nautilus and all its required components from source can use the online installer to get Nautilus directly from Eazel. Copy the Eazel installer script from the Nautilus directory on the CD to your /tmp directory. Change to the /tmp directory and while in X, execute as root:
./eazel-installer-rpm3.sh (for Red Hat 6.x systems)
./eazel-installer-rpm4.sh (for Red Hat 7 systems)
The Nautilus installer will then perform a check on your system and proceed to download and install the required components. The download and installation process could be quite time-consuming as over 50MB of software may be required.
Once the installation is complete, you will have an altered desktop look including a link to Eazel services.
Using Nautilus brings a whole new realm of functionality to your system. The default home location is your home directory where you will not only see the files which are present but also a preview of what they look like. For example, if you have in your home directory a lot of jpg, gif and bitmap image files, Nautilus will render a thumbnail of the images and display them. Furthermore, if you have a few text files in your home directory, Nautilus will take a snapshot of the content and render an image of it.
In addition to the file viewing abilities of Nautilus, the Mozilla browser component lets you start browsing the Web simply by typing a URL into the location toolbar. This Web integration is where Eazel will be targeting Nautilus users for online storage and service business. Eazel offers online storage that, when accessed through Nautilus, is like part of your file system.
The enhanced desktop features of GNOME and Nautilus make it a real technological breakthrough. Software combinations such as these should have a positive effect in bringing Linux to more mainstream computing. n
MAME, or Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (www."mame.net), is an open source project that allows arcade games to be played on standard PCs.
The MAME project was founded by Nicola Salmoria in late 1996 and its development is still led by him. MAME is an emulator in the sense that it runs programs derived from computer systems other than its own. Therefore, it acts as an interpreter of code written to emulate arcade machines, making it capable of playing games from such systems true to their exact nature.
The games for MAME, known as 'ROMs', have been programmed from the original ROM chips that are found in cartridges and circuit boards. Support for games varies from the old Atari 2600 classics such as Space Invaders to the latest arcade action titles like Street Fighter. (For more information and background on emulators, see the January 2000 Alt.net column, page 18.)
XMAME (http://x.mame.net) is the X11 port of MAME and runs on a variety of Unix systems including Linux. XMAME development closely follows the main MAME releases to ensure that whenever a new version appears, compatibility stays the same.
The latest stable release of MAME, and therefore XMAME, is 0.36. For the 0.37 release, there are already several working betas available which are fully functional and quite stable. To install XMAME, you can compile the latest version by extracting the tar archive and running make. The doc directory in the archive contains specific instructions. If you are unsure about compiling it from source, the RPM package provided is installed with (as root):
# rpm -Uvh
Once XMAME is installed place any ROMs, distributed as
There are also a few helpful XMAME frontends available for Linux. The term "frontend" describes the graphical user interface program that is used instead of executing commands at the shell. Frontends can also control the features XMAME uses when playing games.
Two frontends for GNOME/GTK are gRustibus (http://grustibus."sourceforge.net) and GnoMAME (http://gnomame.sourceforge.net). Both programs have been provided in RPM format and are easy to install. As root, execute:
# rpm -Uvh
To start the program, type in either grustibus or gnomame and press
The GnoMAME interface is easy to use, displaying all your ROMs in a main window. Double-clicking will start the game. The buttons along the top provide access to game information as well as XMAME and GnoMAME preferences. There is also a search/filter button that can find or display games according to name, year or manufacturer.
For KDE users there is a Qt-based XMAME frontend called qmamecat (www.mameworld.net/mamecat). The name "mamecat" comes from MAME Catalogue/launcher - which is what the program basically does, cataloguing all your games so they are easily accessible. The major requirement for qmamecat is Qt 2.2.x or later. To install it, unpack the tar file, change to the qmamecat directory and as root execute make then make install.
If you are running qmamecat for the first time, execute the qmsetup script in the qmamecat/bin/ directory. This will ask you to specify the path to the XMAME executable and the ROMs directory.
Once qmamecat has indexed all your ROMs in alphabetical order, double-clicking on the game will launch it. Other features of qmamecat include png, bmp and gif preview image support, as well as a game search utility.
MAME is a great way to explore games of the past, right on your own computer.